Why Do Passports Come In Different Colors?

Why Do Passports Come In Different Colors?

Why Do Passports Come In Different Colors?

These days, international and even some domestic travelers need to make use of a passport in order to get where they need to go. But if you have a lot of international friends, or happen to look around while you’re waiting for your next flight at the airport, you may realize that not all passports look the same, particularly with regard to their colors.

In general, there are only four types of colors used for passports worldwide: Red, Green, Black, and Blue. Passports do, however, come in different shades of each of the four main color groups. Why do passports come in different colors? There is no set reason! Unlike passport sizes or format, countries have no rules or guidelines for selecting passport color, and passport colors follow no set system of country categorization.

This is not to say that passport color is completely meaningless, however. While there are no official regulations, there are some common themes regarding passport color that can give you insights to national identity. Here’s the breakdown of passport colors:

Red Passports

People who hail from Europe, especially EU countries, most likely have passports in a burgundy color. Some countries that want to join the EU, like Turkey, also have red passports to match. However, Europe isn’t the only place you may see a red passport. Many countries in the Andes region, like Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, share this color as well.

Green Passports

In Islam, green is considered a color of religious significance. This is part of the reason why many countries in the Middle East use this color. Several West African countries use it as well, such as Niger and Senegal.

Black Passports

This is more of a general color than a regional one. All kinds of different countries, from New Zealand to Botswana, use black colors.

Blue Passports

Blue passports are associated mostly with the “New World” and Caribbean countries, but can be found elsewhere in the world as well, like Syria. The United States has a blue passport, but this wasn’t always the case. Originally, red was used before switching to green in the 1930s, and then to black in the 1970s, before ultimately coming to its modern incarnation. Further proof of just how arbitrary passport color can be.

While these are the most common variants, there may be more designs to see in the future. For example, Norway recently unveiled a new design considered a “work of art” by some. One can only wonder what country is next. For now, hang on to your passport, whatever color it is!

Speaking of passports, do you know which passports will get you into the most countries without a visa? Test yourself in the quiz below!


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